We’ve talked about upcycling and the important role it has to play in reducing waste, so where should you look to find the best items for your recycling projects? Flea Markets are a start, but, like Etsy, in this age of boho chic you’re more likely to find items that have already been upcycled for you (not that there’s anything wrong with that!). On the other hand, a good salvage or reclamation yard can be fantastic hunting grounds for your next, unique furniture gem.
When IKEA was founded in 1943, an era of flat-packed, designer-living was ushered in. Suddenly, even a university student could afford new furniture, and the idea of buying second-hand became old hat. We’ve all bought a Billy, or a Kallax, or a Ypperlig at one time or another, and why not? They’re well made (at least up to the point they hand the Allen Key over to you), and they look good (at least when they’re new). They do the job you need at a reasonable price.
However, that reasonable price on paper has a whole ream of unintended side-effects. On the one hand, there’s a used item out there that you didn’t buy instead which, rather than getting renovated, is now scrap. As for the items that you just bought, they have a lifespan of 5-10 years, after which point even the best-treated of IKEA furniture will be showing its age. So now you’ve got two dining settings headed to the tip.
There’s a time and place for buying new, of course, and when you do, pay more for something that will last longer! Shop for potential heirlooms whenever you can. And where better to start than by buying something that’s already lasted a lifetime or two?
Salvo is an online directory of reclamation yards. It’s a fantastic resource for checking out where the nearest and best options for you are. They’ve gone beyond that though by encouraged each of the yards they register to sign up to the ‘Salvo Code’, a code of conduct intended to give you, the buyer, greater confidence in the legitimacy of the items you’re purchasing. So when you do look for your nearest reclamation yard, think about supporting those that guarantee your possible purchases are not stolen, haven’t been improperly removed from a protected site or contain any toxic materials.
So far, more than 150 dealers have signed on to the code.
And out of all those salvagers, these are our Top 9 reclamation yards!
Your Nearest Salvage & Reclamation
LASSCO is a real gem. This is the secret of designers, where they all go for their inspiration and to source truly unique and wonderful items, so you’re going to face some stiff competition, which also keeps the prices high. Nevertheless, the staff are universally knowledgeable and helpful, unless they don’t approve of your plans for a particular upcycle, in which case they have been known to refuse a sale.
Brunswick House, 30 Wandsworth Road, Vauxhall, London, SW8 2LG; 020 7394 2100
RETROUVIUS may be smaller than LASSCO, but their selection is top notch. With their specialisation in unusual items from the 1960s and 70s, if you go in with a specific requirement in mind, you may be disappointed, but if your mind is open, you’ll be bound to find items that inspire and delight.
2A Ravensworth Road, Kensal Green, London, NW10 5NR; 020 8960 6060
Heading out of London brings opportunities for incredible finds and bargains. If you’re a designer or regular renovator, an annual tour of the next few locations will always pay dividends.
Cox’s Architectural in Gloucestershire is a fantastic venue; a 12,500 sq ft warehouse (with another half acre around it), this reclamation yard can feel overwhelming. Everything from doors and handles, to reclaimed beams and flooring, with a share of brassware and decorative items thrown in too. If you have a big project to undertake, Cox’s could be the place to start!
10 Fosseway Business Park, Moreton in Marsh, Gloucestershire, GL56 9NQ; 01608 652505
Heading on up to Manchester brings you to INSITU – playing on the fact that it’s a reclamation yard set inside a reclaimed pub. 4,000 sq ft of salvage material set over four floors, the unique location is a fantastic setting for discovering unexpected furniture items just waiting to be rescued.
252 Chester Road, Hulme, Manchester, M15 4EX; 0161 839 5525
If you make it out to beautiful Bath, you’ll find MASCO, a reclamation yard so big it has two separate yards: one for building materials (bricks, tiles, timber floors and joists), and one for all the interior materials (doors, furniture and decorations).
Separately, MASCO even runs a reproduction factory, creating high quality replicas of some of the most popular items.
108 Walcot St, Bath, BA1 5BG; 01225 444404
From architectural antiques to restoration advice, ARC RECLAMATION is a fantastic destination for anyone on an upcycling deep-dive. Their large selection of doors, fireplaces and church furniture are all stand-outs.
Unit 1, Upper Downgate Farm, Sandy Lane, Steep Marsh, Petersfield, Hants, GU 32 2BG; 01730 231 995
Mongers relies on local craftspeople to restore and repair the items in their reclamation yard. The vast range of furniture and architectural features (along with a formal garden displaying garden antiques) are spread across the many buildings that encompass the workshops. The range of fixtures and fittings range from the 1890s to the 1950s.
15 Market Place, Hingham, Norfolk, NR9 4AF; 01953 851 868
Yew Tree Barn offers everything from furniture and fireplaces to garden ornaments and windows in this expansive reclamation yard. Not content with salvage-wear only, the team at Yew Tree now includes a full-time potter, as well as furniture restorers, a restaurant and art gallery.
Yew Tree Barn, High Newton, Grange-over-Sands, Cumbria; 01395 31498
Each year, wonderful Knebworth House hosts the UK’s biggest and best collection of salvageable wares. If you have a particular project in mind, and you can’t find what you need here, then it quite possibly doesn’t exist. If you’ve not been able to find what you need at any of the other salvage yards, this is your last, best option.
You have to keep your eye out for this one though, as it does tend to shift about the calendar. July in 2018, May in 2019… its popularity and quality ensures that it happens in most years, but don’t assume it will be anything like it was.
Knebworth House, Old Knebworth Ln, Stevenage SG3 6PY; 01438 812661
Those are the best 9 reclamation yards in the UK, but what about Flea Markets?
The South London Flea prides itself on its focus on quality and affordability. It revels in mid-20th-century with vintage traders from all over the UK offering furniture and homewares that don’t cost the earth.
Sunbury Antiques has been regularly taking over Kempton Park Racecourse since 1979. Such is its popularity that, as of 2018, Sunbury has expanded to host an event at Sandown Racecourse too, allowing Sunbury to exist for a weekend every six months at alternating locations.
This is a big win for the flea marketeers as these events are among the most fun and varied options in the UK: recognised as one of Europe’s leading antiques markets.
Brick Lane Market is one of London’s most exciting. Beyond the fantastic Indian restaurants you’ll find a regularly changing series of shops, stalls, exhibitions and outlets bound to inspire you.
Alfie’s is a London staple, beloved by the gliterati for it’s off-the-beaten-track anonymity as much as its great range of items. Tucked away in Lisson Grove, between better known London addresses like Regents Park and Notting Hill, Alfie’s is well worth a visit.
Aladdin’s is now sufficiently established to err on the side of a showroom rather than being a flea market, nevertheless, this collection of second-hand furniture and antiques offers some great finds and more than the odd bargain. Well worth a visit.
6. Modern Shows
A flea market dedicated to modernism! This is well worth checking out!!
Rarely in the same location and often when you’ll least expect it, you’ll have to sign up to their newsletter to even stand a chance of knowing when or where to go, but don’t let that uncertainty stop you! This market is worth the wait!
The Peanut Vendor is high-end antiques with the prices to prove it. Great for a browse and only ever with the most fascinating of top-shelf stock, maybe you really can afford that £225 ceramic face vase.
This is another one that evolved from a market into a specialty shop with an outstanding collection of the very best furniture. So, perhaps not a real flea market, but if you’re into 20th century modernist furniture and can’t wait for the next Modern Show, then checking out Columbia Road could be the fix your need.
Last and certainly not least is this trip to Shoreditch, where Atomic’s fun collection of furniture and decoration will be sure to tickle your affordable antique needs.
TIPS FOR BUYING SALVAGE
Salvo also suggests these helpful tips to guide you in your salvage shopping:
- Ask where an item came from and if it’s appropriate for the purpose you have in mind.
- Ask your builders or craftspeople if they’ve used reclaimed items or material before.
- Be aware purchases made at auction or at trade fairs will often be non-refundable if they turn out to be other than they seemed. Buyer beware.
- However, buying at a yard will give you the protection of all the usual consumer protection laws.
- Make sure you’e wearing gloves and good tough boots when rummaging about. Splinters and sharp edges will always be waiting to spoil your shopping expedition.
- If you’ve found multiple items to purchase, well done! Don’t forget to ask for a discount!!